Emmys: The Minds Behind This Year's Top Drama Series Open Up About Their Shows

9:00 AM 8/14/2018

by THR Staff

With the Emmys approaching quickly, the producers and writers behind the seven shows nominated for outstanding drama series open up about the challenges, surprises and what's in store for some of this year's most acclaimed shows.

'The Crown', 'The Americans', 'Game of Thrones'
'The Crown', 'The Americans', 'Game of Thrones'
Netflix; FX; HBO

Though the drama series category for this year's Emmys is free of freshman shows, five series' sophomore runs are in contention (The Crown, The Handmaid's Tale, Stranger Things, This is Us and Westworld), one that is nominated for its final season (The Americans) and one that is very near its conclusion (Game of Thrones).

With the Emmys now less than five weeks away, the creative minds behind the nominees address the challenges of a second season and the final chapter of a long-running series.

  • The Crown

    Netflix

    Netflix

    Netflix's big-budget historical drama, which follows Queen Elizabeth II over 
multiple decades, is 
about to undergo a dramatic change. The series is swapping out its current stars — including Emmy-nominated actors Claire Foy, Matt Smith and Vanessa Kirby — for new ones who'll portray 
the same characters a few years on. With the casting musical chairs, it's the last chance for Foy, Smith and the rest of the original actors to nab trophies for their work on the Peter Morgan-created drama, which is up for a total of nine awards.

    Series producer Suzanne Mackie spoke with 
THR about the difficulty of saying goodbye to beloved actors, what gives her anxiety about future seasons of the show and the one question she wishes to never be asked about again (hint: it has to do with the queen's viewing habits).

    Read Suzanne Mackie's full interview here

  • The Americans

    FX

    Eric Liebowitz/FX

    After being largely ignored by the Television Academy for several years, FX's critically adored spy thriller finally broke into the Emmys race in 2016. Since then, The Americans has landed noms in at least a few of the major categories each year. And despite being overlooked in the prestigious drama series category last year, the show managed to jump back into the competitive race this year. "Because it's the final season, it really has a special feeling to it," says Joe Weisberg, the onetime 
CIA officer who created the series and serves as a showrunner alongside Joel Fields.

    The duo took some time to 
look back on the show's legacy, explain why they're not at all surprised about current U.S.-Russian relations and share the most unexpected feedback they've received about the series finale.

    Read Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields' full interview here

  • Game of Thrones

    HBO

    Courtesy of HBO

    Don't call it a comeback: After being ineligible to compete at the 2017 Emmy Awards due to its seventh season's later-than-usual summer debut, HBO's Game of Thrones again finds itself in the thick of awards season with 22 nominations ­— the most for any single show at the 2018 Emmys. The pricey HBO fantasy drama, which will wrap in 2019, covered 
a ton of ground in its seventh season, from reuniting many of the Stark siblings to staging massive, bloody battles (fire-breathing dragons included) and one budding romance that has some, um, incest issues.

    Creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss eschew most awards press, so directors Alan Taylor and Jeremy Podeswa, both nominated for their work this season, spoke to THR about some of its most impactful moments.

    Read David Benioff and D.B. Weissfull interview here

  • The Handmaid's Tale

    Hulu

    George Kraychyk/Hulu

    When Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale won the 2017 Emmy for best drama series, it became the first streaming show to take the trophy in the category. The series, which captured seven other Emmys last year, returned with a vengeance in April, with a 
second season that many felt 
was much darker, following a pregnant June (Elisabeth Moss) as 
she attempted multiple times to 
escape from the confines of Gilead. The show also expanded the world, revealing how refugees from Gilead were living in Canada and how rejected handmaids attempted to survive in the desolate Colonies.

    Showrunner Bruce Miller spoke to THR about why his villains deserved their nominations, that controversial season-two ending and what he wished he'd be asked about on the red carpet.

    Read Bruce Miller's full interview here

  • Stranger Things

    Netflix

    Courtesy of Netflix

    Few streaming shows have returned for a second season with as much fanfare as Stranger Things. Though Netflix famously keeps audience figures under wraps, the first season became a cultural phenomenon after it landed in July 2016, earning late-night spoofs as well as five Emmys and making social media stars out of its actors (even one whose character died in 
the third episode). And the second season built on its predecessor's momentum. One analytics firm named Stranger Things 2 the most popular show in the country, while the series' six Emmy nominations have helped make Netflix this year's most-nominated outlet.

    THR spoke with executive producer and director Shawn Levy about how his team delivered on high expectations for the show and his favorite moment from its sophomore season.

    Read Shawn Levy's full interview here. 

  • This Is Us

    NBC

    Ron Batzdorff/NBC

    This Is Us, NBC's tearjerker drama that won star Sterling K. Brown the lead actor Emmy in 2017, earned eight Emmy nominations for its second season, which finally revealed how patriarch Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) died.

    Creator and executive producer Dan Fogelman spoke with THR about why the show continues to resonate, what he loves and hates about Emmy season and who he wants to meet at the big show (but may be too afraid to speak to).

    Read Dan Fogelman's full interview here

  • Westworld

    HBO

    Courtesy of HBO

    These violent delights have violent ends," according to the hosts at the heart of Westworld. But to hear creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy tell it, there's no end in sight to their trippy, dark fantasy. The HBO drama, which earned 21 Emmy nominations, ended its second season in explosive fashion, including two of the core robot revolutionaries (Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores and Jeffrey Wright as Bernard, both of whom received acting nominations) escaping the Western-themed park at the heart of the show. With season three set to take place at least partly if not largely outside of Westworld proper, Nolan and Joy stand at the edge of uncharted territory — or "terra incognita," as Joy is fond of describing it.

    Nolan and Joy, the married duo responsible for bringing the genre-bending drama to life, spoke to THR about the show's surprising second run and why the next season will be a fresh start, in many ways.

    Read Nolan and Lisa Joy's full interview here